New York GiantsRead the introduction here
Read the Patriots preview here
Full on preview extravaganza full with awards and playoff predictions tomorrow.
2011 Record: 9-7
Key Acquisitions: Martellus Bennett, Jayron Hosley, Rueben Randle, Keith Rivers, Shaun Rogers, David Wilson
Key Departures: Jake Ballard, Jonathan Goff, Deon Grant, Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham, Kareem McKenzie, Aaron Ross, Dave Tollefson
Here it is! The final team preview, and of course it ends with your Super Bowl Champions, the New York Football Giants. I had very low expectations for this team last year, not because of the talent, but because of health. Now I think it's their new skill; deal with a bunch of injuries and lose to bad teams, while beating the really good teams and getting healthy right at the end of the season to make a run through the playoffs that they really shouldn't by beating the Packers at Lambeau, the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and two other teams that are better than them. I picked against them in every playoff game last year (thanks a lot Atlanta) even though they're still a great team. The offense should actually be better this season because both the running backs and the receiver positions have improved. The defense has some questions. While they do have the best defensive line in the NFL (more specifically, the best group of three defensive ends), the back seven could be a problem. They got over it last year, and they'll find a way this year. As I just mentioned, they are notorious for playing down to their opponents, which is really frustrating to watch as a football fan, but awesome as a Jets fan (I actually like the Giants myself, except Giants fans annoy me). They have a bunch of good teams on their schedule, which of course means that they'll be fine. I have them winning the division, but just you wait, Giants fans will be firing Tom Coughlin after every loss, and there will be mutiny if they lose two in a row. I honestly don't get the constant obsession with hating on Coughlin because he's one of the best coaches in the game. But it's New York so being overreactionary and looking for something to hate is normal.
Eli(te) Manning is great. I've always been a fan, but he finally proved himself to the masses last year. Now he's not as good as his big brother (because that would mean that Eli is the best ever, and trust me, Eli is not the best ever), but he's great and well on his way to the Hall of Fame. He's a leader and knows how to get the most out of his offensive players, which is great because he has major weapons on this offense.
I don't know if Ahmad Bradshaw can really carry the load as the top running back. He has struggled with injuries at times in his career, and he was the leading rusher in the worst running attack in the league last year. I think he's in for a bounce back season, but David Wilson is right on his tail. Wilson basically has the same running style as Bradshaw, except he might even be better. He might not be, we'll have to see. What I am sure of however, is that Wilson is much better than Brandon Jacobs, so the running game will be much more of a factor this year. That's right Giants fans. That means a whole lot of points.
Victor Cruz had great chemistry with Manning last year, but don't expect him to repeat his performance or to get better. He's a legit receiver, worthy of being a #1 in this league, but it's impossible to have that many big plays in back to back seasons. He'll get tackled once in a while. The scary part is that Hakeem Nicks is probably better than Cruz, even though he disappointed last year. By disappoint, I mean that he reeled in 76 balls for 1,192 yards. He didn't exactly seem at full strength. He has had some injury troubles in the past, so hopefully that doesn't thwart his development. Mario Manningham made a great play in the Super Bowl. Alright, he wasn't that good otherwise, and Rueben Randle is much better. He has a load of talent. Ramses Barden is healthy! That sound you hear is Eli Manning rejoicing. Barden is a stud and his height makes it pretty easy for him to make catches. He could be a massive factor in the red zone. Manning will throw it up, and hopefully Barden will get it. The Giants have tried to incorporate Domenik Hixon into their offense for two years. They got rewarded with two ACL tears. It would help if he could stay on the field. Jerrel Jernigan was a non-factor last year, but was considered a good prospect out of college.
Martellus Bennett was a failure with the Cowboys, and he won't be much better in New York. They don't need him though.
The offensive line does not look very good. David Diehl was constantly allowing pressure on Manning last year. Kevin Boothe also struggled, and Will Beatty is almost never healthy. Chris Snee is the only sure thing on this line. He has always been great and should be healthy this year, a good sign for Manning.
The best defensive line in the NFL. They led the league in sacks last year, despite injuries to two of their best defensive ends, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Tuck had only 5 sacks in his 12 regular season games, but constantly got pressure on the QB, even with his lingering injury. Umenyiora had 9 sacks in 9 games, and an additional 3.5 in the playoffs. If he is healthy for 16 games, he'll do a whole lot of damage. I haven't gotten to Jason Pierre-Paul yet. He has the most raw talent out of these pass rushers, and showed that off last year, getting 16.5 sacks. He still has a lot of untapped potential,so there's no telling what he can do. I still think it's too early to bring him up in the conversation as the best defensive player in the league, because his first season was pretty bad, but if he puts together yet another great season, he's earned it. Chris Canty and Linval Joseph are both strong individuals in the middle but Canty won't be available for the first six games due to injury. Rocky Bernard is pretty good too, so he'll do a nice job filling in. Joseph and Canty stop the run very well and are able to get to the quarterback. Marvin Austin missed all of his rookie season with an injury, and with his talent, the Giants could end up with an embarrassment of riches at both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions.
The Giants traded for extremely talented linebacker Keith Rivers, but he's always injured, which means he's a perfect fit for the Giants. When he plays, he does everything well. Michael Boley will actually start over him on the weak side, but Rivers should get a good amount of playing time. Chase Blackburn should start in the middle, and he's alright. Both he and Boley struggle at times. Mathias Kiwanuka certainly has found his spot at the linebacker position. He's really good.
Here comes the weakness of this team, the secondary. Terrell Thomas got injured yet again, missing his second straight season with an ACL injury. His career is going to be affected greatly by his fragile ligaments. Corey Webster is not nearly as good as Giants fans like to give him credit for, but he was really good in the playoffs last year. He can get a good amount of interceptions, but he's not a shutdown corner at all. Prince Amukamara was obviously affected by injuries last year and looked really bad. Unfortunately, he's not playing in the season opener, which means that Miles Austin and Dez Bryant will take turns trying to exploit Michael Coe or Justin Tryon. Speaking of exploiting, Antrel Rolle was a disaster. It seemed every big pass play given up by the Giants was in his direction, yet he wasn't there to stop anything. He's really bad in coverage. Kenny Phillips however, was the opposite of a disaster. He's a really good safety who will only get better.
Lawrence Tynes was mediocre last year, but that's because he was recovering from multiple injuries (what else did you expect? He's a Giant, they always find a way to get hurt!). Steve Weatherford was a great punter last year, but he's probably in Coughlin's doughouse after his actions earlier this month. Jerrel Jernigan was alright on returns last year, and he should be getting better.
11-5, 1st in NFC East
**NOTE** Go ahead Giants fans, tell me that I have too much Jets bias and that Antrel Rolle, Corey Webster, and David Diehl are amazing. You're wrong.